chicken · Middle Eastern · onions · rice · spices

Chicken with Caramrlised Onion and Cardamom Rice

What is like to move to a new city ? I should know that by now, 3 continents and numerous cities. Yet, after all these years movement and relocation does not get any easier. It scares me, I am afraid that I may not be able to set my roots anywhere. Just when I start getting familiar and comfortable ; the dreaded move happens. It is either a new job/better opportunity or just feeling deep down that it is time to explore new territories. It is not that I don’t have a choice or that it is served as a fate accompli , there are times when I take the call. I have asked myself may times, why do I do it? As in when I have a choice to settle down and be comfortable , why then do I pack my whole life in a storage container and start all over again, the answer then is my insatiable appetite for exploring and learning about new places and cultures that on the one hand pushes me to travel and yet, on the other hand leaves me wondering whether, I would ever have my feet planted firmly somewhere.

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This time the move has been, how shall I put it continental, all the way from Sacramento to Milwaukee. So California goes Wisconsin. We moved a month ago. Between apartment hunting  unpacking and reorganising , we were practically living on take outs and instant noodles. I have come to realise that no matter where you go, food and the memory of taste continues to stay with you. Even in the most unfamiliar of surroundings one can draw comfort and solace from the familiar tastes or at least the memory of it. So while I was unpacking, I came across one of my cook books, Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolengi and inside in once of the pages I had a paper sticking out  saying “must try it out.” The recipe looked fairly simple but very familiar; a kosher rice and meat dish which had an uncanny resemblance to our very own chicken pulao. Suddenly, the memories of my mother’s chicken pulao came flooding in and I could not resist myself. I just knew I had to make this dish. Thus the first proper meal that I cooked was funnily enough kosher, yet with familiar and comforting ingredients like rice and chicken.

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Chicken with Caramelised Onion and Cardamom Rice

Recipe- Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolengi and Sami Tamimi, Page- 184


  • barberries 1 tablespoon/ or you can use currants
  • onions 2 medium thinly sliced
  • Chicken quarters (leg and thigh) – 2.5 lb/1kg
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • cinnamon 2-1inch stick
  • Basmati rice-1and 2/3 cup
  • Boiling water- 2 and 1/4 cup
  • 2 table spoons of chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cups of cilantro ( coriander leaves)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil-5 table spoons
  • Salt


  • The book says that in case you are using barberry then you would need to soak them in a sugar syrup to mellow down the acidity and the tartness of the berries. If you are using currants then you can give this step a miss. I used currants. In case you do not have currants, you can use Sultanas too.
  • Meanwhile heat 2 table spoons of olive oil in a large pan/ dutch oven and add the onions. Cook them for about 10-15 mins till they turn golden brown in colour. While the onion cooks, in a bowl (glass) add the chicken, the whole spices, salt, 1 table spoon of olive oil and salt and black pepper. Mix them well and leave it to rest for about 10-15 mins.
  • Once the onions are cooked, heat the remaining olive oil and add the chicken with the spices. Sear the chicken for no more than five minutes each side. Remove the chicken and place them on a kitchen plate lined with kitchen towel. Remove any residue oil. The spices can stay.
  • Next add the rice to the same pot along with the caramelised onions, salt, black pepper, the currants or the barberries stir for a few seconds. Next tuck in the seared chicken pieces into the rice.
  • Now pour the boiling water into the rice and let it cook on very low heat for about 30 minutes. Now this is very important. Once the dish is cooked.  Remove from the heat and quickly remove the lid and place a tea towel on the pan and seal it once again with the lid leaving it undisturbed for another 10 minutes.
  • Finally, add the herbs and fluff the rice with a fork
  • Serve hot or warm with yogurt on the side.


The Cookbook


Make sure you add boiling water to the rice other wise the rice tends to take a much longer time to cook and gets soggy as well.

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